Spending endless hours in meetings with different organisations seeking intervention of his office, the Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini recently came to a dead end, when he decided to go and dirty his hands. This was during a tour that Agribusiness Monthly initiated to find out what was he doing to encourage people to grow their own food. LUNGA MASUKU visited his home at Nkiliji.
Dlamini disclosed that people should make sure they discard the dependency syndrome because food aid may dry up soon yet they can make use of arable land. His office is charge of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), a government agency that was started to mitigate the seriousness of national disasters. This was after Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini declared the dry spell a national disaster.
During a recent interview, Dlamini said he was a hard working person who believed that the recent rains signaled the beginning of the new farming season. Dlamini’s desire is to see a majority of Swazis utilising every arable land for growing food for their families.
Soil preparation is paramount if a farmer wants to get a good yield from his piece of land, while they prepare their fields they should also guard against pesticides. Pesticides are known to have the potential of destroying crops in an event before crops germinate. To maximise a good yield intercropping can be explored. He encouraged on approved planting varieties that can see the country enjoying food sustenance.
As an example, Dlamini said he recently planted maize on his backyard garden in the capital so that he does not have to take the limited resources should he feel like having roosted green mealies. In the form of encouragement, Dlamini said even tyre gardens must not be under estimated so that people get fresh vegetables they have grown on their own than buying everything. Dlamini said the country needs over 150 000 tonnes of maize to be self-sufficient. At present the country was battling to even get closer to half of the required grain crops.
“It is one of my passions to ensure that I encourage people to plant immediately their areas receive enough rains. Just because already ploughed most of my fields I will not waist time once we receive good rains. For a good yield, planting late maturity seed varieties should be towards the end of October so that by the time the country experiences a dry spell my crop will have grown. Enough moisture is required for seed varieties.”
“Late maturity varieties weigh more giving much needed energy required for maximum output. Not dismissing the planting of early maturity varieties, they can be planted as an alternative than depending on food donations. Indigenous maize has so far been regarded as outstanding but erratic weather conditions forced farmers to rely on early maturing varieties.”
Dlamini explained that those who are located in areas that normally do not receive maximum rains should opt of early maturity or medium term seed varieties. Research has showed that close to 500 000 Swazis will need food aid if there are no rains received any time soon. Southern African is blessed with good soils and a potential of generating the much needed foreign currency to boost the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI).
Farmers were advised by the DPM that it was every person’s responsibility to provide for their families not to look up to government for food parcels. It was the duty of different communities to join hands with the government by making sure that donations can be only used during severe circumstances. Fruit trees should also be considered so that even those families found in dry areas can be able to sell their produce in order to supplement their income.
The country’s Tinkhundla centres have fields they cultivate in order to supplement and feed vulnerable children in their vicinity on a daily basis in a bid of offering them a balanced diet as per the dictates of health experts. Speaking about his farming passion, Dlamini said during a good season he normally gets bags in the region of 130 to 150. Crop storage and harvesting should be done well so that produce does not get devoured by or destroyed as one goes about harvesting her or his produce. Crops can be damaged if produced crops are stored in a damp place or in a place with rodents.
Like every budding farmer, the country’s man in charge of the elderly and orphaned vulnerable children has registered his tractor with government so that he can assist his people. To ensure that his tractor meets government requirements to add in the number privately owned tractors recently serviced his tractor to be able to meet government required standards. Dlamini’s next project will be getting other farm implements like tractor drawn planters and disc harrowing equipment. Farm implements that were found at his homestead included a trailer that he also uses for supplying river sand to his neighbours.